GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

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GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#1  Postby surreptitious57 » Dec 25, 2013 7:11 am

One of the regular complaints of Peter Hitchens is that the greatest mistake ever made in relation to this countrys education was the removal of grammar schools and their replacement with modern comprehensives. The argument he makes is that they took the better academically gifted pupils at age eleven and put them into a better system where they would naturally develop their skills. The removal of them meant that all were in the same system regardless of ability

The question is is he right ? On the one hand I see the logic of his argument : why should not the most gifted pupils benefit from a better education ? But on the other hand is this not elitist and discriminatory and reinforcing the class system [ most grammar school pupils would be disproportionately middle class ] I am neutral on this one as I do not have a strong opinion either way as i can see merits in both systems. I would be particularly interested to hear the opinions of anyone who themselves was a product of the grammar school and / or who has their children privately educated

One thing however that I am completely against in the current comprehensive system is grade inflation which was introduced to boost university attendances. Now when A levels were known as the Gold Standard before Eighty Three you needed to get ninety per cent to achieve an A grade. After Eighty Three you only need to get seventy per cent. A pupil could therefore get the highest possible grade not knowing up to thirty per cent of their core subject. This is absolutely wrong. An education system should if anything be making exams harder not easier. It is academic now as A levels are going to be replaced with the Baccalaureate. But it was wrong to do so. The left seem to believe that equality is absolute. What they do not under stand is that talent and skill are not evenly distributed across the pupil population. What should be equal is opportunity not ability Anyway is Peter Hitchens right ? No left wing ad hom rants please but a serious objective examination of the question

To those of you who live outside England I would be very interested in the educational policies of your respective
countries too and how they compare to ours though essentially this is about grammars v comprehensives in this one
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#2  Postby ramseyoptom » Dec 25, 2013 11:52 am

I am what was termed in the 60s an 11-plus failure (admittedly I did a resit on the 11-plus so I must have been fairly borderline), , as I went to a Secondary Modern, where I did O-levels. I then went to a local Grammar School to do A-levels and thence to University to do a degree.

I think that provided the teachers at the Secondary Modern were good, in that they had expectations of their pupils and had not written them off as "failures" then the Grammar/Secondary Modern School split was probably useful way of handling the different learning capabilities of children. So children are more "practical" others more "book learning" and to try to force one into the other is asking for trouble. The Secondaries seemed, as I recall, to cater more for the "practical" rather than the "bookish".

The problem as I see it, Comprehensive Schools try to be all things to all men, and unless there is good management then they will fail at some point or in some area. I suspect, and I reckon that campermon will be along at some point to either confirm or deny, that the a Comprehensive will by its very nature have problems with either the very bright or the very dim because the school will be set up to deal with the great majority that come through it's doors. It is nearly always those at either end of the normal distribution curve that have problems.

The Grammar if set up and run correctly could deal with those pupils from disadvantage backgrounds who were bright. There has, I believe, been some research done to show that since the abolition of the Grammar that social mobility has decreased. It is no good for politicians to say to Universities you must take more people from disadvantage backgrounds if the applicants are not there, for what ever reason.

I think that one of the worse things that happened in British society was the effective abolition of apprenticeships and the forcing of all children, whether they wanted to or not, to stay on in school till 16 and now 18 is being talked about.

There seems to be within the educational establishment an assumption that they know best. When NVQ's were all the rage and you had to do have all training courses certified, some bright spark with a BEd looked at how Optical Technicians (these are the girls and guys who surface lenses, cut and edge lenses into spectacle frames, and surface coat lenses) were trained and came up with something that was so weird that nobody in the industry could understand it. It was rejected with the comment that we already have a training scheme and qualification we like thank you very much. At which point the BEds got huffy and what does your organisation know about training, the answer came back "they been doing since the 1660s so they have had plenty of time to get it right!" So we have stuck with the SMCTech (Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers Technician) qualification.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#3  Postby The_Metatron » Dec 25, 2013 4:16 pm

I don't get it. Grammar school in the US is a synonym for primary, or elementary school.

When I was a kid, we had to invent our own elements for chemistry class. After we wrote literature foe English. Before we put our clothes down onto the lower peg after we'd had our chits signed.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#4  Postby Mike_L » Dec 25, 2013 4:41 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:One of the regular complaints of Peter Hitchens is that the greatest mistake ever made in relation to this countrys education was the removal of grammar schools and their replacement with modern comprehensives. The argument he makes is that they took the better academically gifted pupils at age eleven and put them into a better system where they would naturally develop their skills. The removal of them meant that all were in the same system, regardless of ability.

Punctuation!

The question is: is he right ? On the one hand I see the logic of his argument : why should not the most gifted pupils benefit from a better education ? But on the other hand

Don't start a sentence with the word "but"!

is this not elitist and discriminatory and reinforcing the class system [ most grammar school pupils would be disproportionately middle class ].

Punctuation! End a sentence with a period (full stop).

I am neutral on this one as I do not have a strong opinion either way [punctuation missing here too!] as i can see merits in both systems. I would be particularly interested to hear the opinions of anyone who themselves was a product of the grammar school and / or who has their children privately educated
"anyone who themselves" -- improper mixing of singular and plural!

One thing, however, [Punctuation!] that I am completely against in the current comprehensive system is grade inflation, [Punctuation!] which was introduced to boost university attendances. Now when A levels were known as the Gold Standard before Eighty Three you needed to get ninety per cent to achieve an A grade. After Eighty Three you only need to get seventy per cent. A pupil could therefore get the highest possible grade, not knowing up to thirty per cent of their core subject. This is absolutely wrong. An education system should if anything be making exams harder, not easier [Punctuation!]. It is academic now as A levels are going to be replaced with the Baccalaureate. But it was wrong to do so. The left seem to believe that equality is absolute. What they do not under stand is that talent and skill are not evenly distributed across the pupil population. What should be equal is opportunity not ability Anyway is Peter Hitchens right ? No left wing ad hom rants please but a serious objective examination of the question

To those of you who live outside England I would be very interested in the educational policies of your respective
countries too and how they compare to ours though essentially this is about grammars v comprehensives in this one


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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#5  Postby Blip » Dec 25, 2013 4:54 pm

I came from a very disadvantaged background (my parents were barely literate and absolutely innumerate, among other things) but, having passed the 11+, I went on to a Grammar School and thence to Durham University.

I regard myself as left-wing and egalitarian; I believe the interests of disadvantaged children - such as I was - are best served by selective education, provided, of course, that those who are less gifted academically are also given the opportunity to shine.

This is not a popular view amongst other left-wing liberals, I suspect.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#6  Postby campermon » Dec 25, 2013 5:09 pm

Interesting topic. Bookmarked for when I'm less full up with crimbofood!
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#7  Postby The_Metatron » Dec 25, 2013 6:14 pm

Blip wrote:I came from a very disadvantaged background (my parents were barely literate and absolutely innumerate, among other things) but, having passed the 11+, I went on to a Grammar School and thence to Durham University.

I regard myself as left-wing and egalitarian; I believe the interests of disadvantaged children - such as I was - are best served by selective education, provided, of course, that those who are less gifted academically are also given the opportunity to shine.

This is not a popular view amongst other left-wing liberals, I suspect.

I spent the night at Hartfield College of Durham university while on holiday once. They used to let rooms in the student quarters during the summer break. What a beautiful place that was.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#8  Postby igorfrankensteen » Dec 25, 2013 6:31 pm

The big problem I've seen with educational practices, has been that the basic goal of it all hasn't been logical for a very long time, if it ever was.

That is, I think that the official purpose of publicly funded education should be to see that everyone becomes educated. Regardless of what schools have been called, and no matter the many fad approaches to teaching have been promoted over the years I've been here, the goal of education has instead been, to sort children according to whether a given teacher is able to push information into them at that instructors set pace, while making sure not to spend more money than was allocated by politicians, all of whom are rewarded based on shifting blame and lowering taxes.

The Bush "No Child Left Behind" concept was ideally titled, but as is so often true, the title was just a disguise for an even LESS intelligent way to see to education. Specifically, the policy was primarily designed to tie teacher salaries to test scores. Never to make sure students actually learned anything. No surprise from a Party that thinks all teachers are traitors, because most of them vote for the other party.

The people who claim that it makes sense to segregate children according to learning abilities (without bothering to figure out WHY one child learns more readily than another), are not looking at the overall health and progress of the entire society they live in, only at how good a job the society does at isolating and channeling money into the pockets of the few, the prideful, the already well off.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#9  Postby surreptitious57 » Dec 25, 2013 7:58 pm

Blip wrote:
I regard myself as left wing and egalitarian. I believe the interests of disadvantaged children - such as I was - are best served
by selective education provided of course, that those who are less gifted academically are also given the opportunity to shine

This is not a popular view amongst other left wing liberals I suspect

No because the left believe in equality. But they conflate equality of opportunity [ which is right ] with equality of ability [ which is wrong ] There is no universal standard because all children are different. I am all in favour of them being given
the best chance but the fact of the matter is that some will be more gifted than others. Treating them as a single entity
is therefore not practical

The N V Q was introduced to give those who would leave school with no qualifications something to show for their eleven years. But they were so basic that they were not really worth the paper they were written on. And coupled with the grade inflation of A levels there were more school leavers with qualifications than ever before. But the latter was done to maintain the pressure to keep passes at that level artificially high. And the only way to guarantee that was by reducing the percentage for grade passes. Because A levels are graded by letter one does not actually know what percentage one gets so there was no reason to assume that the new grades were any different to the old ones. But they were. And significantly so too. Previously one had to get ninety per cent to obtain an A grade but after Eighty Three it dropped to just seventy per cent

All of this was started in Eighty Three when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. The reasoning was to get more into further or higher education. This had the advantage of manipulating the unemployment figures because even if you did not work you were not classed as unemployed if you were a student. When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in Ninety Seven the aim was to send half of all school leavers to university. But A levels were still being subject to the grade inflation that began fourteen years before

It now looks as if that process has finally been stopped. Because I understand they are now going to be scrapped from next academic year and the Baccalaureate is going to be introduced instead. Not only is it academically superior to the A level but it is wider in scope too. There are six core subjects that have to be taken regardless of whether one wants to or not. The aim is to provide a more complete qualification. It is universally recognised and other European states will have had it for much longer than we will have had it for. And given its superiority it may mean fewer actually obtaining the qualification and going to university. But that is better than what has been happening for the last thirty years. So a long time in coming but better late than never
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#10  Postby Beatsong » Dec 25, 2013 10:57 pm

My son goes to a grammar school. In fact we moved to a grammar school area partly to get him into one, after seeing what a complete fucking waste of time his primary education in London was.

For him it's excellent. He's very geeky about maths and science, and can be around other similar kids without any kind of bullying, tall poppy syndrome or any sense of that not being "cool". OTOH our area also hosts some of the worst secondary moderns in the country (not all of them, but a couple), so the validity of the arguments against selection has come into stark relief for us.

The Tripartite system was a typical piece of head-in-the-clouds bumbling British bodgery, great in theory but completely fucked up in execution. It seemed to be ruined by the obsession with mimicking upper class education as the be all and end all of life. There was no actual reason why the technical schools and secondary moderns that were part of the plan couldn't have been great schools that gave kids a great education, but they were massively underfunded and turned into holding pens for the given-up-on, while grammar schools were focused on as "proper" education. That created the perception that if you didn't go to grammar you were a failure and got a second class education, which remains today even though it's not necessarily true. Most of the planned technical schools were not even built.

By contrast, Germany developed a similar model of vocational/academic selection, but actually did the technical side of it properly, and realised the need for training high quality engineers and technicians, not just classics graduates. And look at what their economy achieved compared to ours.

The other problem was that the system was based on some very dodgy beliefs about supposedly innate and fixed levels of intelligence, based on IQ research which was popular at the time but highly disputed now. Entry to grammar school probably has a lot more to do with how people have been brought up than anything in their DNA. For our own purposes, from a pragmatic standpoint I don't have a problem with that. I've seen both as a parent and teacher, the problems schools face trying to educate kids whose home lives basically make them uneducateable. As a citizen I know we have to do something about that, but as a parent I know that that something shouldn't involve forcing my son to waste the best years of his life sitting through useless "lessons" dominated by disruption and low aspiration.

I think if someone asked me to design my ideal education system, it probably wouldn't be a selective one. But it probably wouldn't look much like the current comprehensive one either. In fact I suspect that some of the deepest assumptions behind schooling as a whole are so flawed that attempting to tinker on the surface in search of improvement is largely irrelevant.
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Re: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

#11  Postby Beatsong » Dec 25, 2013 10:59 pm

ramseyoptom wrote:I think that one of the worse things that happened in British society was the effective abolition of apprenticeships and the forcing of all children, whether they wanted to or not, to stay on in school till 16 and now 18 is being talked about.


Aye, totally agree with that.
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